I’m not an athletic sort of person. But I am married to one. And in an attempt to bond with my husband, I agreed to do a charity bike ride. I grew up in Texas, where the roads are smooth and the ground is flat. I’m still adjusting to the idea that this is not the case in other places, such as the one where we live. This ride had several distances to choose from, and Mark picked the longest—one hundred miles. This felt to me like a form of cruel and unusual punishment for one’s behind. So I chose the shortest distance—twenty miles—which still felt monumental to me.
I arrived at the starting line just as the sun started to lighten the sky. I had risen as well, but I was certainly not shining. We began pedaling, and I noticed water stations along the route. I watched the speedier bikers roar up to them, grab a paper cup held out by a volunteer, toss the contents back in one great gulp, and carry on their way. It made me giggle a bit, because most of the water ended up on the rider’s face and clothes and the ground. But slowing down for more just wasn’t an option. (Sidenote: these stations also had tiny cups full of pickle juice. Apparently, the high salt content in it can make muscle cramps go away. Blech. I’m not that hardcore.)
Something about the riders zipping through the water stations felt familiar. Only later did I realize that I’ve lived through seasons when I’ve done the same—when everything has been rush-rush, hurry-hurry, stress-stress, until my soul has felt parched. Perhaps that’s why this picture the psalmist shares is so reassuring to me:
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:2)
The metaphor here is about a shepherd and sheep. A modern-day sheep rancher says, “Sheep prefer to drink still water as opposed to water from a moving stream.” It seems it’s easier for humans and sheep to receive what they need when there’s not a rush.
We may think we have to settle for a quick sip, that God’s priority is for us to cover as much ground as we can in as little time as we can. But His true invitation is for us to slow down, drink deep, and take all the time we need. Three times throughout Scripture God gives us this offer.
Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink. (Isaiah 55:1)
Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!” (John 7:37)
Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
This is the miracle and mystery: God is pointing us not to an external source but to Himself. He is “the LORD, the fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 17:13), and “when he said ‘living water,’ he was speaking of the Spirit” (John 7:39). He’s not the volunteer standing by the side of the road with a cup in hand. He is the water itself, the One we thirst for with all our being.
Mark and I both finished our rides. We felt happy and satisfied. Pushing through and going fast is a fun way to spend a Saturday. But, I’m learning, it’s a hard way to spend a life.
Pastor and author John Ortberg once asked theologian Dallas Willard what he needed to do to be spiritually healthy. Willard replied, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That’s not the message we get from the world around us. We hear, “Go faster, do more, get to the finish line.” What a relief to know we serve a God who instead simply says, “Anytime you’re thirsty, anytime you need to receive, slow down and come to Me.”
God, You know how easy it is for humans to get caught up in moving fast and going far. In every moment, whether I’m busy or being still, help me remember that when my heart is weary and my soul is thirsty, I can come to You. You offer me what I most need to receive, what I can’t get anywhere else. Amen.
Question for Reflection
Pause and take a deep breath. Let yourself sit in silence and stillness with Jesus for a moment before you move on with your day. What is your soul thirsty for right now?
This post is an excerpt from my devotional, What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times: 60 Powerful Truths to Protect Your Peace. If you want to live with more peace and less pressure, more calm and less chaos, more worship and less worry—What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times is for you.
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